On Making Land Day an International Movement Against the Settler Colonial States

Palestinian children in Gaza commemorating Land Day. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

With Benay Blend

On March 30, 1976, Israeli police murdered six Palestinian civilians while protesting further dispossession of Palestinian land. Since that date, March 30 has been celebrated as Land Day, in honor of the Natives sumoud (resilience).

As Yara Hawari points out, it is “an important event in the Palestinian collective narrative – an event that highlights Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonization.” As well as re-establishing the Palestinian cause as a global struggle, the uprising succeeded in uniting Palestinians in the homeland with the diaspora despite previously “externally engineered” geographical and political divisions among the people.

Like Al-Nakba al-Mustamera (the ongoing Nakba), the events that led to Earth Day continue to this day. Ethnic cleansing, discrimination, destruction of land and ecosystems, and burning of trees – are still part of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians.

As Land Day approaches, Israel’s right-wing Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, suggested that the village of Huwwara be “destroyed” by the Israeli government. His comment came in response to growing Palestinian resistance in the area. Later, Smotrich announced in Paris that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people” because there are no Palestinians.

Although his comments were alarming, Smotrich’s comments spoke volumes about what the Zionist state has been doing since the Nakba. “There should be no doubt that what Smotrich is talking about and inciting is the genocide of the Palestinian people,” claims Ali Abunimah. “Neither are Smotrich’s statements; they reflect deep and careful thinking and a coherent ideology.”

For these reasons, Mawusi Ture, an activist and member of the Black Alliance for Peace, reiterated on Facebook a call from the Adalah Justice Project to tell Ben Jealous, the former leader of the NAACP, who is now the leader of the Sierra Club, ” environmental justice does not exist. not upholding the rights of indigenous people from Palestine to Turtle Island.” Adalah asked people to write to the Sierra Club Board of Directors asking them to cancel an Israeli trip planned for March 2023.

This is not the first time the Sierra Club has been criticized for these trips. In February 2022, Palestinian activists called on the group to live up to its anti-racism and environmental mission statement by canceling “apartheid tours”. Turning back on the Palestinians, the group first canceled their trips but then succumbed to Zionist pressure.

This year, Adalah targeted Ben Jealous in particular, who, they say, is like other progressives “who come up short in Palestine.” In fact, Mondoweiss reported that Jealous supported an anti-BDS executive order in 2017 that prohibited anyone boycotting the state of Israel from doing business with the State of Maryland.

“The cause of Palestine is not only a cause for the Palestinians, but a cause for all revolutionaries, as a cause for the exploited and oppressed masses of our time,” proclaimed the late Ghassan Kanafani. It is fitting that this quote gives the NDN Collective position paper “The Right to Return to Land is Back”.

There is a tendency, even among pro-Palestinian activists, to conclude that the current Israeli government is a confrontation rather than the logical conclusion of 75 years of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their lands. As NDN explains, the current problems facing all Indigenous people stem from “settler colonialism, genocide and apartheid.”

The proposed destruction of a forest in Atlanta, Georgia to make way for Cop City is a case study in the ways settler colonies are connected. This area already had a scarred history. In the 1800s, it was stolen from the Muscogee people, and later used as a plantation. In the early 1900s, the prison’s farm site forced inmates to do unpaid agricultural work. It is currently used by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) for a firing range.

The current controversy seeks to turn 300 acres of forest into a tactical training ground containing a mock city. As Kwame Olufemi explains,

“To be clear, the city is not just a controversial police training ground. It is a war base where police will learn military maneuvers to kill black people and control our bodies and movements. The facility includes firing ranges, plans for bomb testing, and tear gas deployment will be practiced. They are practicing how to ensure that poor people and working class people stay together. So when the police kill us again in the streets, like they did with Rayshard Brooks in 2020, they can control our protests and public reaction to how they keep murdering our people” – Kwame Olufemi, Community Movement Builders. “

The proposed facility includes military training facilities, a mock city to practice urban warfare, explosives testing areas, several firing ranges, and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad.

The US police began as “slave patrols” to catch black slaves escaping from plantations, now their goals have been modernized to promote white supremacy and capitalist interests, but they are almost the same as before. After the police murders of Tire Nichols (shot during a routine traffic stop) and Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (shot while protesting Cop City), this new development would bring more police called the “domestic army” of the Black Alliance for Peace. to terrorize the working class and the poor.

In addition, the US military already provides training to forces around the world, including Israel. As Eran Efrati, director of campaigns and partnerships for the progressive group Jewish Voice for Peace, explains, “These exchanges enhance and enhance the militarization rooted in American policing with the tactics and technology of Israeli occupations and apartheid being tested on the Palestinians daily. basis.”

During this training in Israel, US and Israeli officials visit checkpoints, prisons, airports, and other sites of human rights abuses, where they learn techniques used to suppress dissent in the to improve his country. “The kind of police training that is given in Israel is actually part of the problem because it encourages a warrior mentality in the police and exposes them to practices that would be unconstitutional in the United States,” said Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology. the Interception.

“Founded by Robert Friedmann, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) is the local expression of the Lethal Exchange program,” writes Black Alliance for Peace-Atlanta, ” featuring US and Israeli police. and the Israeli military share hyper-military police techniques and technology and physically travel to Zionist Israel to engage in this exchange.”

This Deadly Exchange works both ways. During a recent visit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed the Palestinian Authority (PA) to implement the American security plan to restore control over Jenin and Nablus. Palestinian resistance fighters have become more active across the region in response to the escalation of Israeli violence.

On August 11, 2022, the Adalah Justice Project sent a letter to the environmental organization. condemning “upcoming trips to apartheid Israel that greenlight Israeli colonialism and harm Indigenous Palestinians.” Although the Sierra Club declares that it bases its itinerary on “equitable and transformative journeys,” these recommended trips to Israel are merely practicing the “crossroads” it claims. Palestinians are once again exterminated from their land by the decision of the group, as if they did not exist.

In a statement commemorating Land Day 2022, Masar Badil, the Palestinian Revolutionary Exchange Movement, referred to it as “a warning on the road to freedom and to return” to all Palestinians in the homeland and in the diaspora. In addition, they called on “all democratic and progressive forces in the world” to stand in solidarity, reaffirming their commitment to inclusivity in their struggle to “defend their land, their lives and their rights”.

On that same day, the Samidoun-Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterated that “Land Day is not just a commemoration but a day of living struggle to dislodge colonialism from Palestine.” While Palestinian and solidarity movements are increasingly targeting settler regimes, writes activist/journalist Ramzy Baroud, it is important to remember that “Palestinians are a nation of people with political agency who can express their freedom, who position and, finally, to win as. as part of a much larger fight for justice and freedom around the world.”

According to activist/writer Omar Zahzah, the “multiple experiences of settler colonialism had the inadvertent effect of fostering a deep sense of empathy and mutual conflict” between Palestinians and Indigenous peoples around the world (NDN Collective, LandBack Magazine, 2022, p 45).

Listening to his words, on Land Day 2023, the anniversary of the martyrs of March 30, 1976, but also to celebrate the struggle for freedom and Landback that continues to this day.

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “‘Homeland and Exile Are Not Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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